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VIENNA

How you can get vouchers to eat for free at Vienna restaurants

If you're doing your Christmas shopping in Vienna this weekend, you have the chance to get vouchers that allow you to eat for free at restaurants as part of a scheme aimed at boosting the economy post-lockdown.

Vienna cafe
The vouchers will be for use in gastronomy businesses in Vienna, from restaurants to the famous coffeehouses. Photo: Rick Govic/AFP

A total of €4 million in vouchers to use at Viennese restaurants will be given to shoppers this weekend, the city’s council and chamber of commerce announced on Wednesday.

Anyone who shops at a brick-and-mortar store in Vienna (not online) this weekend can submit their receipt to receive some of the vouchers. The council said that “at least 50 percent of the invoice amount will then be reimbursed, up to a maximum of €100” and that the vouchers would be given in €25 amounts.

Because the total amount is capped, these will be raffled off between everyone who takes part in the campaign. People who take part will have the chance to get up to 50 percent of their purchase amount back in vouchers, up to a maximum of €100.

To be eligible, your purchase needs to take place on December 18th or 19th — the retail sector has been allowed to open on Sunday to make up for some of the turnover lost during the fourth lockdown in a rare exception to Austria’s strict Sunday closing laws. 

Only receipts from shops which were closed during the lockdown are eligible, so pharmacies, supermarkets and food shops are not included. You don’t need to be resident in Vienna to take part, but just need to do your shopping in a Viennese store, and you do need to be aged 16 or over.

READ ALSO: Can I travel to Austria for tourism after lockdown?

The raffle is set to take place in January, with the vouchers expected to be valid from February.

Mayor Michael Ludwig said the initiative was a way of showing appreciation for “the retail sector, the gastronomy sector and all those who have had to wait to do their Christmas shopping so far”.

The city council has launched a website for the initiative, wiener-weihnachtszuckerl.at, though at the time of publication it simply said more information would be added shortly.

In Vienna, non-essential retail stores re-opened after the lockdown on Monday, but restaurants and cafes remain closed until December 20th, making it the last of Austria’s nine regions to re-open gastronomy.

READ ALSO: What are the current Covid rules in Austria?

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Eight habits that show you’ve embraced life in Austria

Living anywhere as an international resident will have an impact on your life, but if you recognise any of these habits then you have truly embraced the Austrian lifestyle.

Eight habits that show you’ve embraced life in Austria

Life in Austria can be similar to many other European countries, but there are some aspects that are distinctly Austrian.

Here are eight habits that show you’ve integrated into the Austrian way of life.

FOR MEMBERS: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

Indulging in coffee and cake

Coffee and cake is almost as integral to the food culture in Austria as the Wiener Schnitzel.

So say goodbye to the diet, ignore any thoughts of guilt and get stuck into a slice of Sachertorte, Punschkrapfen or Linzer Torte

Preferably with a delicious coffee on the side.

READ MORE: Caffeine, war and Freud: A history of Vienna’s iconic coffee houses

Participating in winter sports

Austria, especially the west of the country, is a winter sports enthusiasts dream.

The Alps offer an almost endless choice in ski resorts, gondolas and mountain huts, with winter sports options ranging from skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing and Langlaufen (cross-country skiing).

Needless to say, if you live in the Alps, winter sports quickly become a central part of the lifestyle during the cold months. After all, it’s healthy, fun and even a bit dangerous (if that’s your thing).

It’s also a great way to explore the landscape of Austria and get a deeper understanding of the central role of winter sports in Austrian culture.

Downing tools for lunch

Lunch in some other countries (especially places like the UK) is often a sad sandwich while sitting at a desk. 

In Austria however, lunch is an important part of the day and many people sit down at midday with their colleagues or families to enjoy a proper cooked meal.

This is a prime example of the healthy work-life balance that residents in Austria enjoy, and is a much-better habit to embrace than working through a lunch break.

Wearing house shoes

In most Austrian households, people do not wear outdoor shoes inside. Instead, they opt for house shoes, otherwise known as slippers in English or Schlapfen in some Austrian dialects.

Also, many Austrian homes do not have carpet on the floor, which means walking around with bare feet or just socks in the winter can get cold – fast.

So if you’ve invested in a pair of house shoes or, even better, you have a backup supply for guests, then you have fully embraced life in Austria. 

READ ALSO: ‘I’ll probably return to the UK’: Moving to Austria as a Brit post-Brexit

Being punctual

Typically, Austrians are punctual people and don’t appreciate lateness.

For this reason, many international residents make an extra effort to be on time (or early), and it’s not uncommon to become stressed if you know you will be five minutes late.

As frustrating as this can be, it’s actually incredibly polite to be early for a meeting and not a bad habit to pick up.

sparkling water

(Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash)

Drinking sparkling water

People like to drink sparkling mineral water in Austria.

In fact, sparkling water is so popular that if you order a Mineralwasser (mineral water) in a cafe or restaurant, the sparkling variety is often served unless stilles Wasser (still water) is specified.

Want to be more Austrian? Then simply switch from still to sparkling water.

Stripping off

Countries in Central Europe are much more comfortable with nudity than other nations, and it’s no different in Austria.

The main place to expect an encounter with naked people in Austria is at the sauna. There are even some saunas that have a naked-only admission policy and won’t let people in if they are wearing swimming gear.

People also like to get naked at lakes – especially at the more remote or quieter locations – or at least go topless (for the women). 

The reality is, no one bats an eyelid. So put your prudish instincts aside and don’t be afraid to strip off.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

Taking sick leave

Employees in Austria are entitled to six weeks of paid sick leave (the number of weeks increases the longer the worker has been employed in the same company).

This means workers are more likely to take sick leave if they are unwell, rather than dragging themselves into the workplace and infecting their colleagues.

The downside though is that Austria has strict rules when it comes to taking sick leave with explicit orders to stay at home. Workers can even expect to be monitored by private detectives to make sure they really are resting at home, as reported by The Local.

For international residents in Austria, this can be hard to tolerate. But the upside is that you’re not expected to show your face in the office when sick, simply to comply with a culture of presenteeism.

And that’s a habit worth embracing.

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